What Is Toner and Does My Skin Need It?

Anyone who prescribed themselves a drug store skincare routine in their teenage years will recognise toner as the second step in their three-step, cleanse, tone and moisturise system. There’s a good chance you picked up all three products from the same brand thinking you were behaving like some kind of skincare goddess but did any of us actually know what the point of the toner was? Do we even know what toner is used for in adult skincare routines?

It’s safe to say that toner has come a long way from its early days and is now actually a pretty powerful and very important step in any skin care routine. Different toners with varying ingredients will play a different role in gaining or maintaining healthy skin so it’s time to smarten up and take the mystery out of toners so we can really utilise their magic.

Let’s start by getting familiar with what toners actually do for your skin…

Toners essentially work as a backup to your cleanser helping to restore the balance of your skins PH level. Cleansers tend to be slightly alkaline which can cause dryness and a tight feeling. Our skin is also happiest when it’s in a slightly acidic state so a toner will balance it back out.

Generally, toners are water-based products that are combined with active ingredients that will work deep down into your pores to clean them out and promote a healthier and clearer complexion. These will include alcohols or ingredients such as lactic, glycolic and salicylic acid that target oil production and work to dry out your skin to prevent spots. They’re also used for targeting pigmentation as the actives work deep within the layers of your skin to slough off the excess pigment and cause it to slowly fade away as the acids gently exfoliate the surface of your skin.

You’ll also find toners that are formulated with soothing ingredients to hydrate, clarify and reenergise your skin after cleansing. These will often include ingredients such as chamomile, rose water and aloe vera. In addition to their cleansing powers, these types of toners will give you an added boost of hydration, often returning some of the nutrients to your skin that cleansers can strip away. They can also help to minimise the size of your pores to prevent blockages.

Using toners are really easy and yes, you can find one for any skin type! They should be used after cleansing and before applying your serums and moisturiser. You simply soak a cotton pad or gauze with the toner and gently wipe it across your face, neck and décolletage in upward, circular motions.

Here’s some of the best toners for you to try…

Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner

Just as the name suggests, this new toner from Ole Henriksen is specifically designed to treat your dark spots and pigmentation for a brighter complexion. Thanks to glycolic and lactic acids, as well as witch hazel, it gently exfoliates the surface of your skin, clarifies your pores and can even help fine lines. Unlike other potent toners, the smell is quite pleasant and it provides quick results without being too harsh on your skin. I personally haven’t experienced any added sensitivity or redness and love the glow it provides.

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid Toner

With 8% glycolic acid, acne sufferers will love this formula. It removes excess oil from your skin without drying it out and its exfoliating abilities reduces the look of pores for a glowing complexion. While it is strong, it’s still gentle enough for everyday use for people who have excessively oily or acne prone skin thanks to the addition of chamomile and soothing aloe vera. And the pump dispenser makes it super easy to use!

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

Infused with real roses, this toner gives your skin the burst of energy it needs to return to a balanced state after cleansing and ready to absorb the rest of your skincare routine. The presence of rose water also helps to clarify pores and reduce their appearance and it smells really pleasant giving you a spa like feel.

Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner

This affordable toner is great for people who have extremely dry or sensitive skin. It’s formulated with aloe vera that works to nourish and clarify your skin while providing hydration and preventing your pores getting clogged. It’s also alcohol free so you don’t have to worry about it drying out your skin or causing any irritation.


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